Major League Baseball may return in the coming months, but it’s expected to look quite a bit different.
According to a report by ESPN’s Jeff Passan this afternoon, the league is set to propose a shortened season, with the possibility of a 50-game schedule being on the table.
“Major League Baseball intends to propose a shorter season in which they would pay players a full prorated share of their salaries,” Passan said. “The league believes the late March agreement allows it to set the schedule, and that this would fulfill players’ pro rata desire.”
“The potential season Major League Baseball envisions would run somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 regular-season games,” Passan continued in a later tweet. “The exact number is being considered, but the aim would be to return in July. It would be less than half of players’ proposed season length.”
While Passan says the MLB is envisioning a roughly 50-game schedule, Jon Heyman of the MLB Network says the league has “no intention” to propose a shortened season of that magnitude, saying they hope to “compromise and play [a] season of meaningful length.”
“Players side person says MLB has “a good good faith obligation to provide as many games as possible.” So it appears they would challenge any mandating of very short season,” Heyman said on Twitter. “In any case, there is no such proposal and the good-faith negotiation continues.
“Commissioner Manfred has right via March 26 agreement to unilaterally start season of any length — even short, like 40-50 games — and pay prorated salaries. There is no intention for MLB to propose that now however. Hope remains to compromise and play season of meaningful length.”
According to Heyman, a severely shortened season would hurt the legitimacy of the year, leading the MLB to continue to find middle ground.
“The problem with ordering a severely shortened season — say 40-50 games — is that many fans would question the legitimacy of such a year,” Heyman said. “If health requires it that’s one thing. But if short season is ordered only because the sides couldn’t strike a deal, critics would pounce. … MLB plan remains to continue to negotiate with the players to find a compromise solution, and not to order a drastically truncated season.”
Last night, the MLBPA sent out a proposal to the MLB for the upcoming season, with a 114-game season being the target number for players. That season would last from June 30 through October 31.
This proposal also includes an expanded playoff field in 2020 and 2021 and the opportunities for teams to defer salaries if postseason play is canceled.
While it’s unclear just how many games we’ll see this year, but it’s apparent both sides are hoping to get things rolling in the near future.